Sunday 25 October 2020

A Guide to Vintage Costume Jewellery by the Decade


A Guide to Vintage Costume Jewellery by the Decade

Vintage costume jewellery is a collectible item that also holds novelty and sentimental value for many people. This style of jewelry is categorized separately from fine jewellery, as it is made of inexpensive materials and imitation gems. Though often sold at a more accessible price point, some rare, high quality pieces can sell for thousands of dollars.

Costume jewellery has been around for almost 300 years, as jewellers began experimenting with inexpensive types of glass as early as the 19th century. Through the decades, costume jewellery styles have evolved due to changing social and political trends, typically mirroring the larger trends of the fine jewellery world.

By understanding the styles, pieces, and designers that each decade is known for, you’ll be able to enjoy wearing different vintage pieces and be better equipped to assess the potential value and historical significance of different types of costume jewellery.  

Vintage Costume Jewellery from the 1920s

Art Deco Costume Jewellery, c. 1920. Sold for $475 via Doyle New York (April 2006).

1920s costume jewellery at a glance:

  • Typical pieces: long earrings, long and short necklaces, narrow bracelets, brooches
  • Materials: white metals, clear and coloured glass stones and beads, faux pearls, and marcasites
  • Popular designers: Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli

The Roaring Twenties were an era of dramatic political and social change that brought a new fascination with costume jewellery. During this decade, the nation’s wealth more than doubled and there was a greater emphasis on consumerism than ever before. These shifts impacted the ways that women of this time looked and behaved, and affected their fashion choices.

During the 1920s, women began wearing their hair bobbed, creating the perfect opportunity to show off statement earrings. Long, dangling necklaces that enhanced the wearer’s neck and moved while they danced were popular. Pearls also came into fashion during this time period.

Much of the costume jewellery created during the 1920s was made with the intention of resembling precious jewels as closely as possible, which led to the use of materials like white metals, richly-coloured stones, and faux pearls. The Art Deco movement also influenced the design of costume jewellery during this time, leading to pieces with strong colour contrasts, geometric shapes, stylized motifs, and clean lines. Towards the end of the decade Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli popularized costume jewellery by creating in-demand pieces, elevating imitation accessories for decades to come.

Vintage Costume Jewellery from the 1930s

Eisenberg Brooch with Rhinestones, Vintage, c. 1930. €750 – €975 via Auctionata Paddle8 (August 2015).

1930s costume jewellery at a glance:

  • Typical pieces: double clips, double-clip brooches, pendant earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and brooches
  • Materials: moulded glass, Bakelite, inexpensive plastics
  • Popular designers: Ciner, Trifari, Eisenberg, Coro, Boucher

During the 1930s, costume jewellery became a necessity due to the impact of the Great Depression on consumers’ disposable incomes. Most women could no longer afford to buy new clothes regularly and began to rely on accessories to help change up their aesthetic. An increased focus on accessorizing prompted jewellery makers to begin experimenting with new types of pieces. This led to the creation of the dress clip, which quickly became the quintessential jewellery piece of the decade.

The double clip brooch was invented in France as a piece of fine jewellery and was patented in the US. In 1933, Coro bought the rights to the patent and created their first Duettes in 1935. These pieces were often worn in pairs along the neckline or were added to hats, purses, and belts individually.

During this time period, Cartier and other fine jewellers produced pieces with baskets of fruit and flowers, known as “fruit salads” or “tutti frutti.” This prompted companies like Coro, Trifari, and Boucher to create lines inspired by these pieces using molded glass that mirrored the rubies, emeralds, and sapphires used in fine jewellery.

As this decade progressed, the Art Deco style evolved, leading to the Art Moderne or Streamline Modern styles. Many of the costume jewellery pieces of this decade are known for being whimsical and imaginative due to the influence of Surrealism on designers and the increased use of colourful, inexpensive plastics that became popular during this period.

Vintage Costume Jewellery from the 1940s

Trifari Brooch and Earrings, c. 1940. Sold for €140 via Le Brech & AssociĆ©s (July 2015).

1940s costume jewellery at a glance:

  • Typical pieces: brooches, bracelets, ear clips, necklaces, and double-clip brooches
  • Materials: sterling silver, wood, leather, Bakelite, Lucite, natural shells, plaster, and ceramic
  • Popular designers: Trifari, Weiss, Eisenberg, Hobe, Coro, Juliana, Ciner

When World War II began, the conflict had a big impact on both fashion and jewellery styles. Most notably, clothing styles became more masculine and sensible, while jewellery became a subtle, feminine addition to a look.

During this time period, women donned wide, three-dimensional bracelets and large brooches along the shoulders of their attire. Double-brooch clips remained popular, but evolved from geometric, symmetric sets to asymmetrical, three-dimensional pieces.

One of the biggest changes to costume jewellery during this time period was that sterling silver replaced base metals due to wartime restrictions. Seed pearls and imitation turquoise, coral, and jade were also used due to shortages during the war. Other notable materials during this time included wood, leather, Bakelite, Lucite, and plaster.

Despite the challenges of the war era, the costume jewellery industry continued to blossom during this time period. Sales reached an all time high and the number of design patents issued soared. The quality of pieces also improved greatly during this decade, as many jewellers switched away from creating fine jewellery during the Depression and many skilled workers fled Europe during the war.

Vintage Costume Jewellery from the 1950s

1950s costume jewellery at a glance:

  • Typical pieces: cluster earrings, pendant earrings, bib necklaces, brooches, bracelets, and jewellery sets
  • Materials: decorative beads, art glass, textured metals
  • Popular designers: Christian Dior, Weiss, Hobes, Juliana, Ciner

During the 1950s, it became fashionable for women to perfectly match every accessory of their outfit, and this preference for matching sets extended to costume jewellery. Additionally, the influence of Hollywood movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes made women desire costume jewellery that imitated these types of precious statement pieces.

The most sought-after item of this decade was the “simple strand of pearls” that was used to dress up any outfit. Statement pieces like bib necklaces, hair ornaments, and large brooches were also popular.

During this time, gold-toned jewellery eclipsed silver in popularity as there was a desire for extravagant accessories. Faux pearls, speckled beads in a range of colours, and rhinestones were popular materials used in this decade to create the upscale wardrobe women were looking for at more affordable prices.

One of the most prominent characteristics of costume jewellery of this decade was an innovative use of colour. Designers like Elsa Schiaparelli were not afraid to play with vibrant hues, incorporating multi-coloured stones and several shades into a single piece. At the same time, other designers like Dior and Balenciaga shifted back to using the whites and muted colours of costume jewellery pieces from the 1930s.

Vintage Costume Jewellery from the 1960s

1960s costume jewellery at a glance:

  • Typical pieces: large pendants, hoop earrings, ball drop earrings, and multi-strand necklaces
  • Materials: decorative beads, art glass, textured metals, plastics, vinyl, and Perspex
  • Popular Designers: Kenneth Jay Lane

The 1960s were known for progress, free thinking, and “flower power,” and these cultural changes led to new trends for costume jewellery. During this period, costume jewellery designers started to experiment with innovative techniques and materials, and began producing designs made with less expensive components. With the rise of mass production and technology advancements, plastics became more popular in jewellery design and fashion became more accessible for every woman.

Notable styles include oversized accessories, global styles, and bright colours. Floral designs were also popular, and these designs were usually made of plastics. During this period, bangles in all different colours were the ultimate fashion accessory.   

Pop art and Op art both had a big influence on costume jewellery designs of this time. Bold colour combinations were seen in jewellery design throughout this decade, and many of the pieces were created with the goal of creating shocking visual impact. One of the key designers during this time period was Kenneth Jay Lane, who was known for making statement pieces from popular plastic materials.

Vintage Costume Jewellery from the 1970s

1970s costume jewellery at a glance:

  • Typical pieces: chains, pendants, bangles, dangly earrings
  • Materials: wood, stone, shell, and bone
  • Popular Designers: Coro, Haskell

During the 1970s, multiple costume jewellery styles were popular. Geometric pieces were fashionable during this time, as were bohemian pieces with global influences. The birth of disco also impacted costume jewellery, adding more sparkle and bling to pieces.

Chunky chains and layered necklaces were also in style and many costume jewellery pieces from this period come in unusual colours and shapes. Colours used in jewellery during this time included burnt orange, olive green, brown, yellow, and cream. During this decade, there was an emphasis on using natural materials like wood, stone, shell, and bone.

Vintage Costume Jewellery from the 1980s

1980s costume jewellery at a glance:

  • Typical pieces: big brooches, large hoop earrings, beaded necklaces, jelly bracelets, cocktail rings
  • Materials: imitation pearls, faux gemstones, gold-plate
  • Popular Designers: Vivienne Westwood

In the ‘80s, costume jewellery became a way of making a statement without having to spend a lot of money. The fashions of this time period were bold, and the jewellery matched.

During this decade, necklace styles ranged from beaded to large pendants. Gold was a popular metal, and costume jewellery allowed many women to wear large gold-plated pendants that were much more affordable. During the ‘80s, pearls had a resurgence, and women wore imitation pearls of all colours in bunches and with their ends tied in knots. Bold brooches also came back in to style, as these pieces were seen as another way to make a big fashion statement.

The styles of vintage costume jewellery have shifted through the years, with influences from art, history, and culture impacting jewellery trends. Today costume jewellery are fun collectible pieces, due to both the novelty value and the high quality craftsmanship of many pieces of vintage costume jewellery. Understanding the shifts in jewellery trends is essential for anyone hoping to collect these items, as the style shifts and materials used can impact both the value and longevity of each piece.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

The Arts and Crafts Movement and Development of the Modern Home

The Arts and Crafts Movement and Development of the Modern Home

 August 31, 2020  Archive Insight

American homes in the Victorian period were designed to showcase their owners’ good taste. This is the Wright home in Greenfield Village, where brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright grew up in the 1880s and 1890s.

Outside view of two-story house with wrap-around porch and bicycle propped against fence

As the “best” room, parlors were meant to show the family’s good taste to honored guests, so decoration was carefully arranged. This photo, probably taken by Katharine Wright, sister to Orville and Wilbur, documents the room in the 1890s.

Room with chairs, window, desk, elaborate fireplace

The Firestone Farmhouse, where Harvey Firestone was raised, is also in Greenfield Village. Here is the parlor as curators interpreted it to the mid-1880s. Notice the conscious profusion of pattern, ornament, and what we would call clutter.

Room crowded with furniture and with busy floral carpeting and wallpaper

The family portrait shows just how carefully objects were placed. Even the people seem arranged as if they were objects. In the Victorian mindset, materialism and display were utmost.

Boy, woman, and man sitting in an extensively furnished room

In this ostentatious, high-style interior from Brooklyn, New York, we see the heights of materialism and conspicuous consumption.

Room crowded with furnishings and drapery

This high-style parlor cabinet, made in New York, was meant to impress. Composed of design elements from many historical periods, it truly is a jumble.

Elaborate wooden cabinet with inlay, gilt, and an oval painting on the front

This music or print stand was made for either a parlor or a library and gives us a sense of just how particular Victorians could get with specific types of furniture.

Intricate wooden stand with inlay and carved designs

Victorians loved mixing and matching different styles, even within a single object, like this one. The most important thing was decoration, and the more the better.

Chair with mustard yellow velvet seat cushion and intricately carved dark wood back

Victorians also loved to mix exotic materials into their rooms. During the 1880s, there was a craze for furniture made from animal horns. This chair is part of a set.

Chair with black leather seat cushion and back, arms, and legs made out of steer horns

Dramatic changes in taste came through the work of English reformer, William Morris. Morris sought to change society by creating the first interior design firm, Morris & Company. Probably his most important design was this reclining chair.

Chair with brown leather cushions and wooden slats on either side
THF159903, THF159902, THF159906

Morris despised “overwrought” decoration. He wanted to return to the simple design of the pre-industrial world. He wanted to reunite the arts with the crafts, destroyed by industrialization. This came to be called the "Arts and Crafts" movement. Ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement were adopted by American tastemakers in the 1890s. Gustav Stickley published a popular magazine called The Craftsman, and marketed a line of furniture, including his version of Morris’ chair.

Stickley advocated simpler, less fussy interiors, with multi-purpose rooms, for less formal living. The concept of the living room was born on the pages of Stickley’s The Craftsman magazine.

Woman in blue dress with white apron and cap using a sweeper vacuum on a living room carpet

This brochure for wallpaper shows the most up-to-date Arts and Crafts interior available to Americans in 1912. As the title says: "A Well Decorated Home is a Potent Aid to Contentment & Happiness." The hall flows into the living room.

Woman and little girl at open door of house, as man outside raises his hat

Stickley also promoted the idea of the bungalow, or Craftsman house, much less formal and, he argued, more comfortable than the Victorian house.

House and front yard

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright took these ideas further with his Prairie houses, where rooms flowed into one another, and exteriors took their cues from the surrounding landscape. This is an unexecuted design for Henry Ford’s Fair Lane Home.

Drawing of house and yard on manila paper

This library table displays the simple form and visible construction techniques emblematic of Arts and Crafts furniture. It could be used in a living room as a decorative table or as a desk.

Simple wooden table

Textiles were an integral part of the Arts and Crafts interior. Designers emphasized the use of stylized botanical motifs, such as roses, which harmonized with furniture, ceramics, and artwork. The ideal was to create a unified interior environment.

Beige textile embroidered with green and red floral pattern

This tile was intended to be a part of a larger composition, perhaps lining a fireplace, where the turtles would follow in a line from head to tail. The effect was intended to harmonize with an Arts and Crafts interior environment.

Tile of turtle on yellow background under green leaves

Detroit's Pewabic Pottery was founded in 1903 as part of the American Arts and Crafts movement. This vase represents naturalistic oak leaves in high relief from the surface of the vase. The matte glaze is typical of Arts and Crafts pottery.

Green vase with swirling 3D leaf design

After World War I, interest in the Arts and Crafts waned, as Americans looked toward other styles like the Colonial Revival and new Art Deco for their homes. However, the concept of the multi-purpose living room persisted.

Man and woman sitting in chairs, reading, while teen girl kneels by a radio

Even in high-style interiors, the open concept living room continued.

View of modern living room with text “Catalog Supplement: The Herman Miller Furniture Company, Zeeland, Michigan”

In the post-World War II era, most American homes featured a comfortable living room. In this Christmas 1962 snapshot, note the Victorian rocking chair on the right and the recliner, an updated version of the “Morris” Chair, at the left.

Two women and one man seated in a room around a silver aluminum Christmas tree

In this La-Z-Boy ad from the 1980s, we can see the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement.

La-Z-Boy Showcase Shoppes, 1980-1988	Living room with woman, man, and child on couch, with text “La-Z-Boy Showcase shoppes” below

This has been a whirlwind tour of American interiors through the 19th and 20th centuries. If you’d like to learn more about the Arts and Crafts movement, check out this Expert Set and other artifacts within our Digital Collections.

Charles Sable is Curator of Decorative Arts at The Henry Ford.

Saturday 10 October 2020

How to decorate with antiques in a modern style home


How to decorate with antiques in a modern style home

“I created The Find Antiques because I want to challenge the stigma surrounding the word ‘antiques’ and all the negative connotations that it evokes in most people – the idea that it means outdated, stuffy, dark brown Victorian furniture, reminiscent of childhood or visiting your grandparents’ house,” says Danielle Rusko of her online business The Find Antiques.

The Find Antiques creative director Danielle Rusko
The Find Antiques creative director Danielle Rusko

It was after working at an antique store in Noosa that Danielle was inspired to challenge the perception of antiques. “I want to show people that they needn’t be afraid of antiques as they are still quite functional in their use and not just as decorative items. It is not about having a house full of antiques anymore, but how one or two statement pieces can really add a touch of individualism and add depth and texture to a room,” says Danielle who has worn many hats throughout her career including a stint as an accountant in corporate finance and as a makeup artist (a hat she still wears today).

The Find Antiques lounge room

“I had been a lover and collector of antiques throughout my twenties and thirties and it was actually whilst stalking my favourite Instagram hashtag #antiques a couple of years ago that I really believed there was an opportunity to create an online store selling antiques,” says Danielle who has been invited by the Australian Antique and Art Dealers Association to exhibit at its Art – Design – Living Fair in Sydney this month from August 16-19.

Modern bathroom accessorised with antiques
The antique drawers add warmth and interest to this modern bathroom

“There is no formula to how a room should look. By adding one or two antique or vintage pieces, you can really transform a space and create a romantic and eclectic fusion of interior design that is visually stimulating and appealing. It also helps the antique item by giving it a new lease of life when mixed with the modern and contemporary and creates a dynamic style and special synergy within the home,” says Danielle.

Modern space styled with antiques

“I think that we have become a little too seduced by what we see on some reality TV design shows and believe we can’t create a room based on our own style or budget without being ridiculed for it. I personally do not want to live in a ‘same, same’ environment where the interior of my house looks the same as next door,” says Danielle who ships Australia wide and is opening a retail space imminently. “I am in the process of creating my dream showroom in an industrial warehouse in Noosaville which will be a visual utopia of modern and antique,” she says.

Danielle Rusko with antique mirror

“When you can touch a piece and see the artistic skill of the marquetry inlay up-close or you open the drawer of a commode and the scent of old wood overwhelms you, that’s tangible. It is my aim to impart the history of craftsmanship, skill, survival and nostalgic stories of the past to evoke an emotional response and connection with the viewer,” says Danielle who will also use the retail space to illustrate how to blend the antique with the modern.

Danielle Rusko with antique desk

Danielle’s top five tips for merging antiques with a modern home:

  1. Don’t be afraid to create a relationship between the old and the new. It helps to bring out the personality of the antique and creates depth and texture to a room that can sometimes look too sterile.
  2. Most homes have that classic white wall and tiled flooring, so introducing antique cabinets or tables can really add character and personality to a room.
  3. Use simple form and rich materials in your choice of furniture to create consistency between the older and newer pieces. For example, satinwood is a timber regularly featured in antique furniture and is an great match to complement your more contemporary pieces.
  4. Use the piece in its functional capacity as it was designed to be used. Sometimes we can be a bit overwhelmed by its age and beauty that we forget antiques still have a practical use. It is hoped that as it has already survived this long with a bit of care and consideration that it will last another 100 or so years.
  5. Buy with your personality in mind. Antiques range from the exquisite to the quirky to the questionable – including their price point! Buy what feels right for you and resonates with your sense of style. You may like to start off with something small like a lamp or vase and gradually as you begin to become more confident you can incorporate larger more statement pieces, like a beautiful French commode.

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